Katie Rogers explains why Airbnb provides a unique travelling experience
Who wouldn’t want to sleep in a converted cable car suspended 9,000 feet above the snowy slopes of Courchevel? Experience a night in a truly haunted Victorian Castle in the Yorkshire Dales? Choose a quilted Chanel 3.55 bag as a pillow at a pre-January sales slumber-party in Paris’ iconic Galeries Lafayette? Or spend a week in the ex-England rugby captain’s home while he’s commentating at the World Cup?
All of these examples are legitimate past and present Airbnb listings from the trusted community marketplace, which connects people to unique accommodations around the world. Airbnb has completely revolutionised travel accommodation as we know it.
With over 800,000 homes listed around the world, Airbnb opens the door to one-of-a-kind, inspiring destinations – from tree houses to private islands, and everything in between. And if this sounds too luxurious for you, as it did for me, then fear not. The website gives you the choice to rent an entire place, a private room or even a shared one, there are options to match any price range. My experiences with Airbnb have not been glamorous, but they have certainly been worth raving about in a Pi article.
Using Airbnb in Paris, Barcelona, New York, and Boston not only meant I could afford to stay in prime locations, but it also meant that through meeting my different hosts, I was offered the best local tips and tricks – far more valuable than anything I could have found in a guidebook.
In Paris, staying in a private apartment a stone’s throw from the Sacré-Cœur in the heart of vibrant Montmatre, cost two of us a mere £25 a night in total. Our host Clare, who listed her apartment on Airbnb because she was going away for the weekend, went above and beyond to welcome us into her home, leaving us her Apple Mac laptop to use during our stay. If that’s not trusting, I don’t know what is.
Equally, renting a room in an ultra-zen New York apartment was made all the more special by our warm and welcoming yogi host Claire (maybe it has something to do with the name…). Even though she was away for part of our stay, she was entirely comfortable sharing her home with us, and although we loved her company, it was an added bonus having the apartment to ourselves when we’d only booked a room. She also introduced us to Pies-n-Thighs, an East Williamsburg Southern Soul diner specialising in chicken and waffles, for which we will be forever indebted!
Airbnb has recognised what most seem to overlook – the difference between a tourist and a traveller. Although some may use the terms interchangeably, they have very distinct connotations. For me, being a traveller is less about following a strict itinerary, and more about being immersed in a culture, connecting with locals, trying new things and exploring with an open and curious mind. Airbnb encourages this mindset by giving us the opportunity to live locally when we travel – an opportunity we should embrace with the same open arms that are welcoming us into homes around the world.
Most importantly, Airbnb is reminding us of an important and often forgotten message: mankind is kind. Growing up in a world where the common parental mantra “don’t talk to strangers” is rather deep-rooted, staying in the home of someone you don’t know and have never met, might go against the grain a little. But it is exactly for this reason, above even the material benefits, that we should value the Airbnb experience all the more. It teaches us to trust again.
And if this hasn’t convinced you, perhaps watching this will.
Featured Image: Airbnb
Other Image: Katie Rogers